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Belles fall to Thunder, 3-1, as conference slate winds down

| Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saint Mary’s lost 3-1 in conference play at Trine on Tuesday and will try to rebound at Calvin on Friday.

The Belles (12-10, 6-6 MIAA) rushed out to an early lead in the opening set, forcing a Trine timeout and building on the momentum they established at the Elmhurst Tournament the previous weekend.

The Thunder (19-3, 8-3) rallied to claim a 12-11 lead, but the Belles played the Thunder close and ended up winning the set, 25-19.

Trine continued its strong offensive play in the beginning of the second set, scoring nine points in a row to put pressure on the Belles. Saint Mary’s was unable to make up the difference and dropped the second frame, 25-18.

The Belles played catch-up in the third set as well. The Thunder established a 10-3 lead early — a lead they would not relinquish as they earned a 2-1 match advantage with a 25-16 set victory.

A hectic fourth set saw a total of 10 ties and nine lead changes. The Thunder prevailed with a score of 25-22, winning the match 3-1.

The loss evened the Belles’ conference record at 6-6, good for fifth place in the MIAA. As of Wednesday, they are tied in conference wins with Alma  though Alma (13-14, 6-5 MIAA) has one fewer loss.

In order to advance to the rapidly approaching postseason conference tournament, the Belles must climb at least one position in the standings  the top four teams participate in the conference tournament. Four of their six remaining matches are in the MIAA, giving them the possibility of ascending into the top four.

Their first obstacle to achieving that goal lies in Grand Rapids, Michigan as Saint Mary’s travels there to play conference foe Calvin (20-3, 10-1 MIAA). The Knights won the only meeting between the two teams this year in straight sets.

From there, the Belles have conference matches at Kalamazoo and at home against Adrian after the Calvin game. The Belles’ regular-season schedule concludes on Senior Night against undefeated conference leaders Hope on Oct. 31.

The Belles take on Calvin in Grand Rapids on Friday at 7 p.m.

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